Frequently asked questions

What is Authorised Professional Practice?
Authorised Professional Practice (APP) is developed and owned by the College of Policing (the professional body for policing) and can be accessed online. It is the official and most up-to-date source of policing practice. APP covers a range of policing activities such as: police use of firearms, treatment of people in custody, investigation of child abuse and management of intelligence. The range of subjects covered by APP is growing all the time.  
Where can I find the list of decommissioned guidance documents?
Please see the list of decommissioned guidance, which lists guidance that has been decommissioned and is superseded by APP. Email if you require information about the decommissioned documents for official – sensitive and specialist community APP
What changes have been made to APP since the launch of the website in October 2013?
Please see the list of changes for details. All amendments are subject to a review process and further information is available from
How can I access copies of previous versions of APP content?
If you require a copy of APP as it was on a particular date (for example, for an enquiry) please email All requests must be approved by the relevant Policing Standards Manager.
What does the College of Policing do?
The College of Policing is the professional body for policing. It sets high professional standards to help forces cut crime and protect the public. The College of Policing will:

  • set standards of professional practice
  • accredit training providers and set learning and development outcomes
  • identify, develop and promote good practice based on evidence
  • support police forces and other organisations to work together to protect the public and prevent crime
  • identify, develop and promote ethics, values and standards of integrity.

For further information please go to

What does 'authorised' mean and what is the legal status of APP?

APP is authorised by the professional body for policing (the College of Policing) as the official source of professional practice on policing. Police officers and staff are expected to have regard to APP in discharging their responsibilities. There may be circumstances, however, where there is a legitimate operational reason for a Force to deviate from APP, providing there is a clear rationale for doing so.

It would be for the Force to bear the responsibility of any local and national risk of operating outside nationally agreed guidelines, and if an incident or investigation occurs as a consequence (such as through the IOPC) the Force is liable for any risk. Any processes associated with such a course of action would be a matter for the Force.

Does APP apply in Scotland? Has it been endorsed by Police Scotland?
APP is not currently a Police Scotland product; however, discussions are ongoing to determine whether Scotland adopts APP fully. There are areas of guidance within APP that have been developed in conjunction with Scottish partners and where content is applicable in Scotland this will be clearly signposted.

How does APP help police forces?
APP streamlines existing knowledge products and guidance into a consolidated online format.  The benefits of an integrated approach include:

  • instant access to authorised knowledge and the ability to link seamlessly to other APP areas
  • the ability to search content
  • a reduction in the volume of material
  • a consistent and compatible approach
Will all guidance become APP?
Not all guidance will meet the criteria determined by the Gateway Group to become APP. It is at the discretion of the relevant National Policing Business Area to identify any additional guidance to be developed and they are responsible for ensuring that such guidance is accurate and kept up to date. Existing guidance products are still valid during the development of APP. Once APP has been developed, National Policing Business Areas review their pool of products to ascertain which have been superseded by APP and can be decommissioned, which need to be retained as reference material and which can be archived.
How will APP be updated?
APP will be subject to review (either scheduled or triggered) in consultation with the relevant National Policing Business Area. Updates will be flagged to users and details on changes will be provided as necessary. 
How does the search function work?
It starts by identifying all pages that contain or match any of the words you searched for. It then calculates the relevance score for each page found – this score is based on how many times your search words appear. Extra weight is added to the relevance scores as follows:

  • pages that include more of the search words are given extra weight over pages that contain many instances of fewer of the search words
  • pages that include some or all of the search words together as a string, making a phrase, are given extra weight depending on the length of the phrase and how far apart the words are
  • pages that include the search words in page headings are given extra weight.

The search function applies a cut-off which discards pages with low relevance scores. The rest are displayed. The page excerpt displayed in the search results is adjusted to focus on phrases where applicable.

Why does APP not cover all policing areas?
The development of APP is based on identified threshold criteria. APP must support interoperability at a national level, contribute to the mitigation of ‘high risk’ activity or reinforce the Strategic Policing Requirement. APP is being developed and released incrementally. 
How do I align force policies with APP?
APP website titles and sub-titles can be hyperlinked to force policies. Go to ‘Contents’ and find the title or sub-title required. Right click on the title or sub-title and select ‘copy shortcut’. The shortcut is a unique url which can be embedded in force policies as required.  
Can I access APP on a mobile device?
Yes. The APP website has been built using responsive design which ensures users always have the optimal viewing experience, be it on a tablet, mobile phone or computer.
How can I access official – sensitive APP?
Official – sensitive APP is accessible to police forces through the Managed Learning Environment (MLE). Confidential and sensitive APP content, released to specialist communities via standalone discs, remains current. For more information, please contact us.  
Can I print APP?
Yes. Each page of APP has a print icon at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Using this icon, rather than file > print, ensures that the print is displayed in a way which more accurately represents the web page.

If you wish to create a file which you can share, go to tools > print > Microsoft XPS Document Writer. When prompted, browse to the location where you wish to save this file.

Please be aware that APP may be updated at any time to reflect changes in legislation or practice. Any print copy of an APP web page is only valid at the time of printing.

What equality considerations have been taken into account?
The equality impact statement details the steps that are undertaken when developing APP.
Where can I find a summary of topical issues affecting policing?
The College of Policing Brief (formerly the Digest) is produced monthly. It is an environmental scanning publication which aims to capture and consolidate topical and key issues that affect all areas of policing. Each edition contains a summary of new legislation and case law, as well as articles on recently published government reports, statistical bulletins and other issues relevant to operational policing practice and criminal justice.
Who can I contact about APP?